Yogi Superheroes – Round 2 – Day 2 – Durga!

True confession- Durga’s my favorite goddess.  While I love Kali for her visceral life-at-its-most-real gutsy-ness and Saraswati for her I’m-above-it-all-existing-in-the creative-realm inspiration, Durga’s the one I always come back to.  Why?  Well, she kicks butt with unbelievable grace.  She always serves the highest, does what needs to be done, and employs just the right tool for the job.  And she’s gorgeous and rides a tiger, for crying out loud!  In my book, that’s hard to beat.

One of the first things you’ll notice about her is that she has eight arms.  In each of them she holds a different weapon – or as I choose to call them “tools.”  Starting at the upper left hand, she has a chakra or discus, a gift from Vishnu that symbolizes the world spinning around her finder.  The next arm down holds a trident, a gift from Shiva.  The next hand down is in the position we call the “abhaya mudra” – the hand gesture of “no fear.” The lowest arm holds a sword, symbol of her sharp knowledge.  On the right, her highest hand holds a conch shell.  The shell creates a long plaintive note – the sound of “om” indicating her constant devotion to the highest.  Next down is the bow and arrow, representing the potential energy and energy of movement that she has at her disposal.  Second to lowest is of course the lotus flower, which in all Hindu art calls to mind spiritual growth and transformation.  Finally, her lowest hand holds a mace.

(For more on these weapons check out this article.)

With this variety of tools, Durga is equipped for anything from all-out war to meditation and prayer.  She knows that one has to choose the right approach when confronted with a problem, and that having a variety of options at one’s disposal is crucial to success.  I can definitely use that reminder especially on days when I attack the same challenge in the same way, with the same lack of success.  Her versatility reminds us to keep balancing our skill sets and to keep learning.

Durga is resourceful too – which should come as no surprise!  She was manifest into being by Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva when the three of them collectively failed to destroy the demon Mahishasura who was wreaking havoc on the world.  It was said that no man or god could kill this demon, and in the end it was a woman – Durga – that did so.  She went many rounds with Mahishasura as he continued to reappear in a variety of forms – buffalo, elephant, man.  Each round required a different approach and a different weapon.  In the end, she paralyzed him with her light and sunk her trident (always a symbol of Shiva or universal consciousness…hmm!!) into him.  So she overcomes evil with light and divine love.  Oh yeah, and some hard core fighting too – she can handle both.  Is she cool or what??

This is Durga's "yantra" or geometric representation. Notice the power in the colors and the complexity of the nested triangles!

No surprise I love her.  The world needs to be saved and she does it.  It requires persistence, resourcefulness, and some out and out nerve.  Others have failed, and the evolution of consciousness depends on her efforts.  And…she rocks it.  I can just imagine her afterwards flipping her hair, putting on some lip gloss and cruising off into the sunset on her tiger to sip soma by the river in her hot pink dress.  Right on.

Yes, I even have a Durga shirt. She's got my back! Courtesy of Yellowman tattoo-inspired clothing...

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~ by bridgetannlyons on September 20, 2011.

2 Responses to “Yogi Superheroes – Round 2 – Day 2 – Durga!”

  1. I love how you call Durga the tough goddess with grace. I’ve just been to my local Durga Puja and was wondering what the symbolic objects in her hand meant so this was really helpful. I’ll link it in my blog!

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